Veteran economist Don Drummond has advised federal and provincial governments on the best ways to keep public spending under control. Now that all three major parties have released costed platforms, he sees a common point of concern: further increases to the national debt – and no clear plans to pay for it.
The NDP was the last of the three main parties to release a detailed costing on Saturday.
The Globe’s Politics Briefing asked Mr. Drummond, who is adjunct professor at the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University, for his assessment of the three fiscal plans now that their numbers are public.
“They are of like mind in taking the pandemic debt, adding to it, stuffing it in a box, gift-wrapping and passing it onto future generations,” he wrote in a detailed e-mail response. “They implicitly answer the question: Who should pay for this extraordinary fiscal intervention? Someone, way, way into the future.”
Another common element of concern for Mr. Drummond is that new spending promises are rarely linked with specific explanations for how the measures will be funded, either through tax increases or a spending cut elsewhere. He notes the NDP does list a wealth tax as a source of revenue, but the party also counts on further deficit spending.
On tax policy, Mr. Drummond says he sees a lot of bad ideas, pointing to Liberal pledges to impose higher corporate tax rates on banks and insurance companies with profits above $1-billion. The NDP plan includes raising the corporate tax rate for all corporations by three per cent.
“All fiscal studies show the corporate income tax has the highest economic cost. And its all the worse when it is applied selectively,” he said. As for the NDP’s wealth tax, Mr. Drummond said the goal of taxing the wealthy would be better achieved by focusing on income and reducing deductions.
“Despite many differences, they all feature similar philosophies: Push the risk curve by building up even more debt and hope someone, somehow, can deal with it way into the future. Maybe that will all turn out well. But with risk, one does not know, and that is the point. The next generation may have their hands full with other issues on top of dealing with our debt.”
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THE FINAL WEEK
There’s only a week left before voting day on Monday Sept. 20, and the campaign is clearly taking on a more negative tone.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau both opened their news conferences Tuesday with lengthy criticisms of each other.
This change in tone can also be seen as the volume of paid advertising increases. The Conservatives are running ads criticizing Mr. Trudeau. The ads end with the tagline: “We can’t afford more of the same,” and state that Mr. Trudeau puts his own interests first. The Liberal attack ads borrow from Mr. Erin O’Toole’s party leadership slogan “Take Back Canada,” warning that Conservative policies will “take Canada backward.”
The NDP have also been running ads that criticize Mr. Trudeau, using the tagline “Justin Trudeau is all talk, no action.”
Jody Wilson-Raybould is calling on the Liberal government to remove roadblocks to a long-standing RCMP inquiry into possible obstruction of justice, and said she is not surprised that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau denied urging her to lie about a pressure campaign to subvert the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
Some high-ranking Ontario politicians and prominent health-care organizations are issuing warnings ahead of a number of protests expected to take place at hospitals across Canada on Tuesday. Story here.
Lisa Robinson, who was dropped by the Conservative Party as a Toronto-area candidate over the weekend, says she never wrote the online posts that led to her dismissal and that she’s gone to the police because fake posts continue to appear under her name online.
Now that all three main parties have released have released the costing details of their party platforms, the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy, led by former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, has provided an assessment of the three plans. The Globe story is here.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, in Gaspé, Grande-Vallée,Sainte-Anne-des-Monts and Rimouski, has a campaign day that includes a media availability on the appointment of judges. He will also meet with the mayors of Gaspé and Grande-Vallée.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole made an announcement and held a media availability in Carp, Ont., where he highlighted his party promise to allow parents to earn an additional $1,000 per month without causing a deduction in their maternity or parental leave. Mr. O’Toole is also scheduled to hold a virtual telephone town hall for Ontario voters and one for British Columbia voters.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul is making a rare campaign stop outside of Toronto Centre, where she is on the ballot and has spent the vast majority of her time. On Tuesday, she is in Prince Edward Island to attend a University of P.E.I. student barbecue, and has a scheduled news conference with Green Party candidates. She was also scheduled to tour an organic farm, attend a Toronto Centre all-candidates meeting via Zoom, and attend a pep rally.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made an announcement in Vancouver, focused on the party’s health care pledges.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh held a news conference in Sioux Lookout, Ont., and visited the Neskantaga First Nation.
David Parkinson (Globe and Mail): asks who will pay for all of the deficit-financed spending that is the foundation of the platforms from all of the major parties: “No one is saying that paying off hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic debt would be easy, painless or quick. But no one is even talking about trying. Even the concept of reining in the deficit is being kicked well down the road – meaning years more of adding on to the debt pile.”
Jody Wilson-Raybould (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on her professional relationship with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau: “I know the Prime Minister had always considered me a bit of a challenge – not political enough, too independent-minded, and ultimately not part of the inner Liberal crowd. I think I was foreign and incomprehensible to him. After all, I was from the other side of the tracks. I was an Indigenous girl from a small fishing village – Cape Mudge, on the southern tip of Quadra Island just off Vancouver Island. I am Kwakwaka’wakw. The PM did not grow up in my neighbourhoods, with the kids I grew up with. None of his family went to residential schools. My childhood memories are closer to Comox and Cape Mudge than Rockcliffe. My political point of reference was the Big House, not the House of Commons. To be fair, he did not choose how and where he grew up or who his parents were. But Liberals? Political parties? Not my world.”
Chris Selley (National Post): says Erin O’Toole’s pitch that he represents a new Conservative Party could lead to problems with core supporters if his bid for middle-of-the-road voters fails: “The party’s traditional base – the one that in March voted down a motion simply to “recognize that climate change is real” – is still a force to be reckoned with. And it’s likely to be all the more furious, all the more prone to fracturing, if O’Toole doesn’t manage to win. Polls currently suggest that he will not.
The one-and-done theory of party leadership that the Liberals and Conservatives alike have adopted makes little sense to me. It seems to be predicated on the notion that Harper or Trudeau are so beyond the pale that anyone who fails to beat them on a first try deserves banishment. But if any Conservative leader could lose this election to Trudeau and stay on as opposition leader, O’Toole seems very unlikely to be him – not despite he ran a moderate campaign that pleased many progressive conservatives and Liberal swing voters, but precisely because of that. At the end of the day, that’s not the leader party members voted for.”